13 March 2018

A dead cert? - Can VOC measurements of decomposition be used to enhance victim recovery detection dogs?

Organised by:

SCI's London Group in partnership with UCL's Chemical & Physical Society

UCL, London, UK

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The breakdown of biological tissue during mammalian decomposition results in the production of both gases and liquids. The majority of these gases are inorganic of nature, e.g. CO2 and NH3, however a range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also present. These volatile substances are intermediate products of decomposition produced when large macro-molecules such as proteins, are broken down. Victim recovery dogs can be trained to detect this unique mixture of volatiles to allow their use in victim recovery. Currently there exists no standardised method of police dog training across the UK, with different police forces implementing diverse training techniques using a variety of sample types. With the current lack of scientific basis to the training and a deficiency in funding, the effectiveness of police dogs has been met with criticism. The University of Leicester is currently applying a variety of analytical techniques to identify and quantify the volatile profile of decomposition in real life scenarios.
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Venue and Contact


Department of Chemistry
University College London
20 Gordon Street
London, WC1H 0AJ

SCI Communications Team

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Email: communications@soci.org


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Additional Info


Dr Jonathon Brooks, University of Leicester